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Age twenty-one at this writing (Fall 2012), musician Bryan McDowell has already compiled an extraordinary resume that far exceeds his years. He is a vocalist and gifted multi-instrumentalist whose playing reveals a captivating style and balanced intellect that allows him to fit seamlessly into almost any genre.
Growing up in the music rich region of western North Carolina, McDowell began playing fiddle when he was 5 and picked up mandolin and guitar at 12. During these early years, he sharpened his skills playing music with his family throughout the Southeast. When the group disbanded in 2008, Bryan and his sister Emma continued performing and recorded an album with their longtime fiddle instructor and mentor, Arvil Freeman. Emma and Bryan also saw two of their songs selected for the 2008 IBMA Songwriter Showcase.
In 2009 with encouragement from friends, Bryan took a break from performing to try his hand at competing. Over the next two years he would amass twenty-one first place wins including such notables as Merlefest (mandolin '09 & guitar '10), Galax Virginia's Old Time Fiddler's Convention (fiddle '09 and guitar '10), the Wayne C. Henderson Guitar Competition and the most notable at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas. Here in 2009, Bryan placed first in the Walnut Valley National Flat Pick Guitar Championship and the Walnut Valley Mandolin and Fiddle Championships... a feat unparalleled in the festival's storied 40 year running. Bryan returned to Winfield the following year and was crowned the winner of the first National Mandolin Championship held at the festival.
Though Bryan enjoyed his stint on the contest circuit, his interest has always been in creating great music with other musicians. In 2011, he shifted his focus to include recording as well as working with various artists of regional and national renown. In addition to becoming the newest member of the Claire Lynch Band (January, 2012), he enjoys occasional appearances with his friends as a member of “The Winfield Three,” a trio that can be seen featured on the cover of the 2010 March/April issue of Flatpick Guitar Magazine. Bryan has released one solo album to date, aptly titled “The Contestant”. The studio-recorded CD features a selection of his favorite tunes from his two years in competing.
For more information on Bryan and a complete list of championship titles,visit:
Also check out other members of the Claire Lynch Band...